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FFC's 20th International Conference Report

October 12, 2016

By Delaney Kipple, Functional Food Center/Functional Food Institute, USA

Dear Reader


The 20th International Conference of Functional Food Center (FFC) and 8th International Symposium of Academic Society for Functional Food and Bioactive Components (ASFFBC) was held on September 22-23, 2016 at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Conference Center at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The conference was titled “Functional and Medical Foods for Chronic Diseases: Bioactive Compounds and Biomarkers.”


The conference consisted of 153 participants from 37 different countries. This included experts, scientists and representatives in the fields of medicine, biology, food and nutrition, as well as lecturers from NIH, USDA, and FDA. Similar to previous conferences, this conference was organized to have a significant international presence, which created a platform for scientific discussions on a variety of topics concerning functional foods, bioactive compounds, chronic disease interventions, and health regulations.


We would like to give a warm thank you to the hard-working members of the organizing committee, whose support and efforts enabled such a successful conference: Hoyoku Nishino, MD, PhD; Hiroshi Maeda, MD, PhD; Nancy J. Emenaker, PhD; Yasuhito Shirai, PhD; Elisabeth Johnson, PhD; Francesco Marotta, MD, PhD.  We also want to recognize the helping hands from Martina La Spina, of University of Padua (Italy), April Mitchell (FFC), J-Y Yo (FFC), and Vidhya Udare (FFC).  Functional Food Center is extremely appreciative of the support and enthusiasm from these institutions and people who made this year’s conference at Harvard Medical School a great success.


The conference began with an opening welcome speech by Danik Matirosyan, PhD, president of Functional Food Center.  Dr. Danik Martirosyan discussed the significance of this Conference at Harvard Medical School, and explained the reasons to explore functional food interventions for chronic diseases.  The growing epidemics including obesity, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and cancer in international communities are dramatically increasing healthcare costs.  Dr. Danik Matirosyan also gave a description of the "Functional Food Definition" according to the FFC.  The FFC defines functional foods as “natural or processed foods that contain known or unknown biologically-active compounds; which, in defined amounts, provide a clinically proven and documented health benefit for the prevention, management, or treatment of chronic disease”. The definition set forth by the FFC is unique to other definitions by emphasizing bioactive compounds as the central point (backbone) of functional food.  Moreover, the safety aspects and health benefits of bioactive compounds need to be well documented and reported, in order to improve the treatment of chronic diseases around the world.  Dr. Matirosyan mentions the motions needed to establish Functional Foods as a separate category to eliminate confusion.  The public must be educated in order to put pressure on the government to accept these definition and category requests, government agencies need to be directly contacted and asked for acceptance, and new evaluation standards and a special food label (like FOSHU) must be created.  It is essential that the entire Functional Food community actively works together to implement these necessary standards and regulations.  


The conference consisted of 8 informative sessions, including 40 oral presentations and 61 poster presentations.  The session topics and session chairs were presented in the following order:

  1. “The Status and Regulation of Nutraceuticals, Functional and Medical Foods. Health Claims.” Session Chair: Gabriela Riscuta, MD, Program Director, Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda MD, USA
  2. “Functional Foods for Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity and Diabetes” Session Chair: Harry G. Preuss, MD, Professor, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA
  3. “Functional Foods and Neurological Diseases” Session Chairs: Bruce P. Burnett, PhD, Vice President of Compliance, Regulatory and Medical Affairs, Entera Health, Inc., Cary, NC, USA and Carol Dillon, MD, PhD, CEMIC University Hospital, Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  4. “Functional Foods and Cancer” Session Chairs: Jin-Rong Zhou, PhD, Nutrition/Metabolism Laboratory, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA and Nancy J. Emenaker, PhD, Program Director, Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA
  5. “Prevention and Management of Dementia” Session Chairs: Hoyoku Nishino, MD, PhD, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan and Elizabeth Johnson, PhD, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA
  6. “Roles of Food Derived Nitrite / Nitrate from Cured Meat to Vegetables, to Hypertension and/or Antioxidant Effect” Session Chair: Hiroshi Maeda, PhD, Professor, Sojo University, Japan
  7. “Functional Foods and Bioactive Compound(s): Prevention and Management of other Non-communicable Diseases” Session Chair: Debasis Bagchi, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston College of Pharmacy, Houston, TX, USA
  8. “Current Research and Development of New Functional Food Products” Session Chairs: Zhongyi Li, PhD, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra, Australia and Vijaya Juturu, PhD, FACN, Scientific and Clinical Affairs, OmniActive Health Technologies Inc., Morristown, NJ, USA

The following report reveals some of the outstanding presentations from the 20th International Conference of Functional Food Center.


Jun Nishihira, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Medical Management and Informatics at Hokkaido Information University in Ebetsu, Hokkaido, Japan presented on the intake of “Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055” and how it “stimulates immunoglobulin production and innate immunity after influenza vaccination.”  In this lecture, Dr. Jun Nishihira explained the findings in comparison to healthy adult volunteers who took a placebo DY.  The IgG and IgA levels in plasma and sIgA production in saliva were higher, as well as the increased natural killer cell activity and myxovirus resistance A gene expression in the LG2055 group.  His study confirmed that LG2055 activates both innate and adaptive human immune responses, therefore suggesting that specific probiotics used as complementary foods have the potential to prevent influenza virus infections.


Paula Trumbo, PhD, Director of Nutrition Programs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition presented about “FDA health claims for foods and dietary supplements.” In this presentation, Dr. Paula Trumbo stated that the FDA does not have a definition for functional foods, but categorizes them as foods that have a “potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition.”  This allows functional foods to be evaluated for health claims, or for “relationships between a food or food component and its role in disease risk.”  They are not evaluated on the basis of preventing a nutrient deficiency because they are not an always an essential food or component in the recommended diet.  


Bruce P. Burnett, PhD, Vice President of Compliance, Regulatory and Medical Affairs at Entera Health, Inc., in Cary, NC, USA presented about the confusion in the US to provide clarity in the medical food category.  In this presentation, Dr. Bruce Burnett stated that “Medical foods (MFs) were first regulated as “dietary drugs,” and approved for safety under the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).”  Over the decades, medical foods have been redefined multiple times, creating instability in the industry.  In 2016, the FDA finalized an MF Program Guidance Manual, but this still provided little direction and greater confusion for the definition MFs. The Nutrition and Medical Food Coalition plans to propose the “best practices” in the development of MFs, leading to an FDA-approval process in the future.


Yasuhito Shirai, PhD, Professor in the Department of Agrobioscience, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Japan presented about the “possibility of epigallocatechin gallate and α-tocopherol as a functional food for diabetic nephropathy and their molecular mechanism.”  In this presentation, Dr. Yasuhito Shirai discussed his experiment in which he determined the importance of maintenance of podocytes and urinal filter functions.  The activation of DGKα by VtE or EGCg protects loss of podocytes during diabetes, contributing the maintenance of the filter function.  He also found that VtE and EGCg may be a good functional food targeting of DGKα to prevent and/or improve diabetic renal dysfunctions.


Gabriela Riscuta, MD, Program Director of Nutritional Science Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention, National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda MD, USA gave her presentation on the “potential benefits of probiotic consumption.”  In this presentation, Dr. Gabriela Riscuta began by discussing the exponential growth in the consumption rate of probiotics, reasoning this is due to the improved symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea caused by antibiotics or chemotherapy, periodontitis and more.  More research is needed to better understand the effects of probiotics, and the actions of microbial metabolites on the host in the context of complex interactions.


Elizabeth Johnson, PhD, Associate Professor, Antioxidants Research Laboratory of Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA presented a review of  “the role of lutein in cognitive function.” In this presentation, Dr. Elizabeth Johnson discussed that lutein was consistently associated with a wide range of cognitive measures to include executive function, language, learning and memory.  In her studies, Lutein concentrations in the brain were significantly lower in individuals with mild cognitive impairment compared to those with normal cognitive function, She concluded that cognition can be increased through Lutein supplements, though further research is necessary.


Nathan S. Bryan, PhD, Professor, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA presented about the health benefits of dietary sources of nitrite and nitrate.  In this presentation, Dr. Nathan Bryan defined the role of Nitrate as indispensable nutrients needed for maintaining NO homeostasis.  He described the daily intake required in order to achieve a threshold of activation, and defined the optimal ranges of intake in order to maximize the benefits while mitigating any potential risks of overexposure.  This presented information will allow future research to effectively test nitrate and nitrate roles in disease prevention or treatment, and create new guidelines for optimal health.


Christina B. Wegener, PhD, Julius Kuehn Institute (JKI); Institute for Resistance Research and Stress Tolerance, Sanitz, Germany gave a presentation about the effects of drought stress on “organic and inorganic bioactive compounds in potatoes relevant to non-communicable diseases.”  In this presentation, Dr. Christina Wegener revealed that drought stress led to a decline in glucose and fructose. This decline, as well as the increase in crude protein, GABA, AAS, ALA, MIS and minerals like Mg, K and P, may be profitable for health benefits of potatoes.


Peter F. Kador, PhD, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy at University of Nebraska Medical Center and President of Therapeutic Vision, Inc. in Omaha, NE, USA has been actively working for 25 years in NIA and NIH.  He gave a presentation about how “topical applied nutraceutical antioxidant formulation reduces ocular oxidative stress.”  In this presentation, Dr. Peter Kador described that in studies consisting of light damaged rats, the topical nutraceutical partially protected the neural retina and photoreceptors against oxidative stress. He concluded that this topical antioxidant may fill the unmet therapeutic need of providing a topical antioxidant formulation that delays the progression of cataracts and reduces the risk of AMD.


Hiroshi Maeda, PhD, Professor at Sojo University in Japan and astonishing Nobel Prize candidate for 2016 presented on the “Roles of food derived nitrite, and nitrate from cured meat to vegetables.”  His involvement of ROS (reactive oxygen species) research lead to the discovery of the molecular mechanism of influenza infection (pneumonia), and found that the enormous generation of superoxide radicals by activation of xanthine oxidase in the lung is the cause of the disease.  Concomitantly, he also found that the up-regulation of synthesis of nitric oxide by iNOS  occurs, and thereby generates peroxynitrite (NO + O2・― →ONOO―), which becomes a more potent etiological agent.  Along this line, he has shown therapeutic strategy using ROS scavengers or antioxidants by using polymer (pyran) conjugated SOD for the first time; which has more than 10 times a longer half-life and better pharmacokinetic property  (×100, AUC), and prevents the pathogenesis of influenza.


The conference was closed with the distribution of scholarship awards and membership certificates of the Academic Society for Functional Foods and Bioactive Compounds (ASFFBC).  We are excited to announce that Hulda Noemi, Amanda L. Stefanson and Syeda Tauqeerunnisa Begum were awarded for their excellence in Functional Food Science.  Noemi, from Brazil, of University of Campinas, won the Bronze ranking for her presentation titled, “Dehydrated melon containing antioxidants from grape juice.”  Stefanson, from Canada, of University of Guelph, won the Silver ranking for her presentation titled, “A novel phyto-oxylipin CX confers acute and systemic anti-inflammatory effect in the liver and small intestine.”  Begum, from Mexico, of CINVESTAV, won the Gold ranking for her presentation titled, “A dietary portfolio modulates SIRT1 expression in astrocytes and reduces brain inflammation while improving working memory in a transgenic mice model of Alzheimer disease.”  We are very pleased to present these awards for their exceptional presentations, and we see a very bright future for these award winners!

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All in all, the 20th International Conference of FFC and Expo created an intellectual atmosphere where scientists, doctors, professionals and enthusiasts from around the globe could network and discuss their common interests and goals, while stimulating intellectual growth in areas such as functional foods, bioactive compounds, chronic disease interventions, and health regulations.  We hope that all attendees and participants left the conference with greater knowledge and an enhanced outlook in these areas, and that they will look forward to the conferences in the following years, in order to continue achieving and progressing in the scientific field of functional foods.

21st International Conference of FFC and Expo
Convention Center


Lastly, we would like to take this opportunity to announce our 21st International Conference of FFC and Expo titled, “Functional Foods and Bioactive Compounds in Health and Disease: Science and Practice”.  The conference will be held at the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA on March 25-26, 2017. The 21st International Conference of FFC will bring together experts in medicine, nutrition, food science, and the food industry to discuss functional foods with bioactive compounds as dietary interventions for chronic diseases, as well as for health promotion. Please click here for more information about the conference topics.

On March 24th, there will be a Harbor Cruise organized for those interested in networking opportunities. We look forward to seeing everyone again!


 Scholarships.HMS 2016          Submit your abstract.HMS 2016          Abstract Sample 2          Submit your abstract.HMS 2016 2



Mailing Address: FFC, 4659 Texas St,  Unit 15, San Diego, CA, USA, Headquartered in Dallas, TX, USA; 
Phone:1-866-202-0487 toll free), 469-441-8272;  Email: ffc@functionalfoodcenter.com;  Web: www.functionalfoodscenter.net



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